Collaboration, Innovation and Change in Teaching and Learning
June 30, 2020
As a response to the nationwide lockdown enforced in March 2020 due to COVID-19, schools had to shut down temporarily. Teach For Nepal (TFN) formed an Emergency Rescue Team to evacuate its Fellows from their placements schools in seven districts. Fellows were compelled to leave their family-like community and students behind during an unprecedented time.
With many schools transforming in-person schooling into digitally-facilitated remote learning, TFN Fellows also endeavored to reach out to their students through online platforms like IMO, Messenger, Zoom, etc. However, they had to connect with their students taking their limited access to technological resources into account.
“Miss, will our school reopen anytime soon?” is one of the many questions asked by the students of Prashuma, an Alumni (then a Fellow) in a rural area of Parsa. She had to handle such unsettling questions of her students in her regular phone calls with them.
Prashuma and 67 other Fellows graduated in April 2020 after completion of their two years Fellowship. These Fellows have now been replaced by 68 new faces in their respective schools and few new ones. One of the many new Fellows, Laxmi Chaudhary, is now placed in Prashuma’s school - Gyanbatika Secondary School, Subarnapur. She has taken charge of those students beginning her first year of Fellowship in Parsa.
Continuing education of students through other mediums like mobile phones, televisions, radios rather than teaching in classrooms is an entirely new scenario for Laxmi and 137 other Fellows. They have been trying to reach out to their students remotely from the very first week of lockdown.
Bibek Kandel, 2019 Fellow from Tanahun, shares, “If it were normal times like last year, we would have been practicing new modern methods of teaching students in school using aural, visual, and kinesthetic ways. And we would also be engaging students in extracurricular activities such as sports, STEM, health, and book clubs to develop and bolster students’ personalities inside as well as outside the classrooms.”
Fellows and their students, before the lockdown, initiated their various clubs and societies at their schools. For example, Prashuma’s Sakhi Club focused on raising the voice of students, especially girls, regarding social issues. Furthermore, Bibek’s STEM Saraswati club became an essential factor to explore the interest of students in science. Students who hesitated to speak for themselves in front of their classmates participated in the Bhawaisya National STEM Challenge, where they traveled to Kathmandu from Parsa and Tanahun to showcase their talent and interest in science.
Even during the unsure times, Fellows are continuously pushing to devise new possibilities for the holistic development of their students at their homes. They are making sure that the learning process of students has not stopped with radio programs like 'Ma Sikdai Chhu' and student engagement initiatives like Pearls of Parsa. Furthermore, along with their students, Fellows have been interacting with students’ parents to get an in-depth insight into the daily activities of their students.
If Fellows were in the community, they would have made regular home visits to convince students’ parents about the long term advantage of education. Such in-person meetings with parents have helped lower the absenteeism of students, which was primarily due to the engagement of students in paid labor and household chores in the school hours.
Undoubtedly, with these small steps, we can see noticeable improvements in academics (English, Science, Maths) as well as the personality of the students. This was not possible without the joint effort from Fellows, students, their parents, and the school family.
The aforementioned impacts in Parsa and Tanahun are the prime examples of how students have boosted their self-confidence in their academics and beyond. However, TFN could not have touched the lives of students in various villages of Parsa and Tanahun within this short time without the support of Surya Nepal.
As part of Corporate Social Responsibility, Surya Nepal began its collaboration with TFN from April 2018 to bring probable changes in secondary education in Parsa and Tanahun. In the first year, TFN placed 9 Fellows in three public schools of Parsa, followed by adding six more Fellows in two other schools the next year.
Surya Nepal's participation in TFN led annual programs like ‘One Day In A Classroom,’ has created a platform for its stakeholders to connect with the community students and get to know their needs personally. It provides them an opportunity to leave the hustles and bustles of corporate life behind and live the ground realities of the community for a day. They also get to witness positive impacts their company’s CSR has brought to build a safer and brighter future of children.
The joint efforts of community leaders, Fellows, and supporters such as Surya Nepal, led to adding more schools near the company's factory locations in Tanahun and Parsa. With this collaboration, TFN has directly impacted more than 2000 students’ lives by placing 24 Fellows in eight schools in two districts within two years.
Padam Lal Shrestha, a representative from Thori Rural Municipality, shares, “Our rural municipality, has always prioritized the education of our children. Having seen Fellows’ determination towards making an impact in our children’s life was impeccable.” He further adds, “After receiving a positive response about Fellows’ work even from the community members and school management committee, we proposed Surya Nepal to appeal for more Fellows in our region. So, they could help children better their academic position.”
Speaking about the collaboration with the Surya Nepal team, Swastika Shrestha, the CEO of TFN, shares, “We are forever grateful for the initiation of Surya Nepal and rural municipalities of both districts for believing in us. Their belief has helped us foster the quality education of students in the time frame of two years by exploring the feasibility of working in two different districts.”
The encouragement of Surya Nepal to place TFN Fellows in the schools of Parsa and Tanahun has brought TFN one step closer to their vision of giving excellent education to children in Nepal.
The CSR partnership with Surya Nepal began in 2018 by placing nine Fellows in 3 schools in Parsa district. This year, the collaboration made it possible to place 24 Fellows in 8 schools in Parsa and Tanahun.
Detailed Progress Report HERE